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Sweden and Finland could join NATO in next 'couple of months'

According to the US ambassador to NATO, the military alliance is working to speed up the process in order to have Sweden and Finland join NATO within the next few months.

Julianne Smith, Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby said that in recent weeks NATO members had “come together” to look at ways to reduce the timeframe for the process which would see the two countries become a part of the military alliance.

Ms Smith stated that the process had previously taken “upwards to a year”, but that all parties are in agreement that it must be speeded up.

“Ideally, we would like it to be done in a few months.” She stated that this is the goal in Sky News’ Beth Rigby interviews programme.

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Sweden and Finland have submitted formal applications to NATO at a historic moment, driven by security concerns about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

The 30 members of the military alliance will now consider the applications.



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Recep Tayyip Erdoan expressed reservations regarding the joining of Finland and Sweden.

After receiving the letters, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg announced the move, saying: “This historic moment must be seized.”

“I welcome the requests of Finland, Sweden for NATO membership. We consider you our closest partner and NATO membership will enhance our mutual security.

The membership process typically takes between eight and twelve months. However, due to the threat from Russia, it was reported that the two Nordic countries could be members in a matter of months if they submit their applications quickly.

Ms Smith shared this sentiment with Rigby, saying that even though Turkey expressed concern, she was confident that they would find a solution. This will allow both Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.

Image The United States Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith stated that admitting a country took previously ‘upwards’ of a year

When asked if two countries could apply quickly, Smith replied: “Yeah. So in recent weeks, allies have come together and tried to look at ways they can reduce timelines surrounding this process.

There are many steps involved. The accession protocol is a document that all allies must sign at NATO. It would also be signed by the two new members.

“To get that signature, you will need to go through what is called the accession negotiations.

“Once the protocol has been signed, each member of the alliance must ratify it. This can be time-consuming and we’ve seen cases where it took upwards to a year. However, given the current situation in Ukraine, and the fact that there’s a war on European territory, I believe all allies agree that this process should be expedited.”

When asked if Turkey might be a problem, as all NATO members must agree to a new member, Ms Smith said that Turkey had expressed some security concerns, but she also stated that “I believe we will eventually see Sweden and Finland join the alliance in not too distant future.”

She stated that consensus must be reached for all NATO actions.

“You must have 30 allies vote for it. We have 73 years of combined experience in overcoming ally differences. For that reason, I am confident that we will find a way to get through this.

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Since the Second World War, Finland has maintained a policy neutrality towards Russia. The country shares an 830-mile (1.340km) border. The neighboring country of Sweden, which has a maritime border with Russia also maintains a neutral position.

For decades, both countries considered joining NATO an unneeded provocation to Moscow.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, however, the public opinion has shifted heavily in favor of joining.

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The applications of these countries will be first examined by the North Atlantic Council (NAC), which consists of 30 members, most likely at ambassadorial levels.

In an effort to speed up the process of membership, Sweden’s defense minister has already traveled to Washington. She will be joined by Magdalena Andersson from Sweden and Sauli Niinisto, the Finnish President, later in this week.

Both countries have ignored warnings by Russia that NATO membership would lead to “serious political and military consequences”.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that he was in agreement with Finland and Sweden. However, warned Moscow about the potential for military expansion on their territories.

Beth Rigby Interviews every Thursday at 9pm on Sky News.

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